Friday, December 24, 2004

Mosul Casualties

Mosul Wounded 3, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

Does It Hurt Now?

"'What we think is likely, but certainly not certain, is that an individual in an Iraqi military uniform, possibly with a vest-worn explosive device, was inside the facility and detonated the facility,' General Ham said.

An impostor could have stolen a uniform or bought one on the black market. But the general suggested that the killer had exploited a hole in the enlistment screening process for Iraqi troops. Asked whether American forces have adequate intelligence about the Iraqi recruits they train, he said the vetting process 'is sound.'

'But clearly,' the general added, "we have now at least one instance where that was likely not satisfactory.'" The New York Times 12/29/2004 11:39 AM

The madness goes on and on. America traded in a sane ending to the war in Iraq for this – fiasco! It wasn’t enough that Rummy had to show how much he loved our troops by his flippant answers to that young Specialist in Kuwait, now that man’s comrades in Mosul had to be shown how little their lives are worth even when they take their ease. I’d think that the Army would make sure that the mess halls in Camp Marez were safe. The MESS HALLS! Am I to think that no place on base is safe? No barracks, no tent, no mess hall, no hospital, no latrine? No place for respite – in other words.

It seems that some insurgent penetrated camp security with a bomb vest. It could have been someone who was well known to them. Someone who had their confidence or so they speculate. It calls into question so many things. Firstly, did they do enough to assure themselves of the support of the Iraqi people, you know, the ones that they supposedly “liberated”? Secondly doesn’t it follow that if you want to assure yourself of the support of the occupied populace that you look to their security first, that you don’t give away their jobs to foreigners, and that you have enough troops to hold Iraq, not just conquer it? Here’s a “force multiplier” for you: if you come in with enough allies, if you stay on friendly terms with the populace, you won’t have to watch your back as much if they help you. Your force would be literally and virtually overwhelming! You don’t declare “major hostilities” to be over until you’ve secured the nation and sent the right political message! You can’t build the nation if you’re still fighting the war. Instead, the Three Failures Bremer, Franks and Tenet get to hide behind big fat medals while their failures are reaped by those they left behind them.

I’m reminded of a political cartoon I saw once in the Eighties, when the Soviet Union was the villain in the Middle East after invading
Afghanistan. The Soviets made many enemies there too. Two soldiers on a busy street in Kabul looking nervous as they were surrounded by peasants who all looked like Ho Chi Minh!

The analogy was that any one of those peasants could’ve been a guerilla, and the poor Soviet soldiers couldn’t tell one from the other.

And now a similar situation exists in Iraq. They know it was a suicide bomber, because the blast pattern and the pockmarks from the ball bearings indicate it was an inside job. That means that somewhere there was a weakness in the vetting process. Somehow, someone could obtain an Iraqi uniform, weapons, and maybe even the necessary papers to get into the camp so easily. What a surprise! Someone learned to be forger, someone took a bribe, someone paid the bribe, and someone had to angry enough to go into the camp and do the job! What wonders could ever cease in a society of the unemployed! Word is, it was someone who was married only a month before!

Twenty-two men were killed! This wasn’t just one or two at some checkpoint anymore. The same pell-mell thinking that went into prosecuting the war went into the occupation. Do everything on the cheap, and cheap is what you get. But then, why be surprised? Wasn’t it the neocon idea to level Iraq in order to build a “new society” there? And so the same cursory approach that went into undersupplying our men with armor and reinforcements went into training Iraqi security forces. Let’s face it, in an area where people feel resentment toward their occupiers, any security forces you create from the enemy population has to be suspect, either because they are moles who meant to infiltrate the occupier, or more likely were accessible to bribery (easily done in a place where incidentals like power still have to be rationed) or their families could be threatened. A whole lot of effort is going into staying on Square One!

And so what does this mean for the future. There is no security in Iraq! Yet Bush wants to hold an election! Where? Where in those “15 out of 19” precincts can one be held with any safety when even in a city in Kurdistan the people can’t have adequate protection for themselves?

And now a major contractor is pulling out. Contrack International, a company based in Virginia that was supposed to build roads and bridges in Iraq, had a contract worth at least $325 million. The reason for leaving? They could no longer afford their own private security. The cost for the safety of their workers became too prohibitive. That’s the price you pay for not having any allies, and Iraqi ears on the ground to take up the slack!

Now it appears that Mosul could be the new headquarters of the insurgency. And, did I hear correctly, there was still some major fighting in FALLUJAH!? It’s the Square One Circle Dance!

East Hampton Star -The Unfeeling President - By E.L. Doctorow"

Monday, December 20, 2004

Not Just a "Legal Paper" Mr. Limbaugh

Limbaugh the Blind, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

He Can't See What's In Front Of Him!

So Mr. Limbaugh, lesser known brother to Rush, but no less misguided in his thought is "fed up with the scapegoating of Mr. Gonzales" over the torture issue, or in his words from his article in the Washington Times:

"Why do so many critics jump to the defense of this depraved enemy we're fighting, whether by leaping to the conclusion the Marine in Fallujah "murdered" the enemy soldier who could have been pretending to sleep, or presuming that our government lawyers are anxious to condone the abuse of terrorist prisoners

How about just once giving those in charge of managing our national security and those directly putting their lives on the line the benefit of the doubt?"

Mr Limbaugh seems to take the attitude that so many on the Right seem to take that since our side is the only true and correct side of the conflict, we have the right to win by any means necessary, and that the ends justify the means. so what if we torture the enemy? They attack us first, and - on 9/11 2004, they attacked us most savagely.

I'll tell you "so what" Mr. Limbaugh, and I'll go you one better. I'll tell how our national identity and self-worth are being sold down the tubes by these new "crusaders for democracy", and "guardians of freedom".

You seem to say that when it comes to questionable actions and war crimes, the enemy has no problem committing them, and we have every right to "get to the the line" as long as we don't cross it. I say that when you see the line touch your toe, you've already crossed it.

What the enemy does on the field or off of it is never under our control. You can appeal it, pressure against it, but never change it. It is what we do on our own turf sir, not on anyone elses, that gives us our moment of truth. It's not what the enemy will do with his captives and victims who beg for mercy, or how he will feel, or can he answer for himself. It's what you will do. How will you face the one begging you for mercy? And will you face the Man In The Mirror?

It may be inconvenient for you to face Mr. Limbaugh, but I have to face it. Mr. Gonzales deserves to face his critics because he has been in a position not only to alter our rules of military behavior, he has turned us from being the "good guy" into the villain.

It doesn't matter what the intentions were at the top when the policy was changed. The law of unintended consequences always takes over. And if the policy change is radical and worded vaguely and with what one may construe as precarious implications, the consequences could be devastating. In the right climate, "Agresssive Interrogation" very frequently becomes torture.

Take for example that very memo you mentioned that Jay Bybee sent to Gonzales:

"We conclude that for an act to constitute torture as defined in Section 2340, it must inflict pain that is difficult to endure. Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death".

Those are some very broad parameters sir. That leaves a big grey hole in the middle where many things can fall in. According to Wikipedia :

"In 1978 in the European Court of Human Rights trial "Ireland v. the United Kingdom" the facts were not in dispute and the court published the following in their judgement:

These methods, sometimes termed "disorientation" or "sensory deprivation" techniques, were not used in any cases other than the fourteen so indicated above. It emerges from the Commission's establishment of the facts that the techniques consisted of:

(a) wall-standing: forcing the detainees to remain for periods of some hours in a "stress position", described by those who underwent it as being "spreadeagled against the wall, with their fingers put high above the head against the wall, the legs spread apart and the feet back, causing them to stand on their toes with the weight of the body mainly on the fingers";

(b) hooding: putting a black or navy coloured bag over the detainees' heads and, at least initially, keeping it there all the time except during interrogation;

(c) subjection to noise: pending their interrogations, holding the detainees in a room where there was a continuous loud and hissing noise;

(d) deprivation of sleep: pending their interrogations, depriving the detainees of sleep;

(e) deprivation of food and drink: subjecting the detainees to a reduced diet during their stay at the centre and pending interrogations.

It refered to the above as the "the five techniques" and ruled:

167. ... Although the five techniques, as applied in combination, undoubtedly amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment, although their object was the extraction of confessions, the naming of others and/or information and although they were used systematically, they did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture as so understood. ...

168. The Court concludes that recourse to the five techniques amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment, which practice was in breach of [the European Convention on Human Rights] Article 3 (art. 3)."

Avoiding that word "torture", we are left with that grey hole. And where there is a void sir, something likes to fill it.


"Total as of 8 Jul 04: 10 Substantiated incidents; 11 Unsubstantiated incidents

1 Substantiated: 10 incidents - All 1st MARDIV - 0 OIF I, 2 OIF II
24 suspects; 10 Court-martial convictions - 1 General court-martial, 6 Special Courts-martial; 3 Summary Courts-martial
2 Non-judicial Punishments ( 1 followed by Board of Inquiry & pending discharge)
6 - charges withdrawn or dismissed
6 cases pending:
3 pending General Courts-martial
1 pending Special Court-martial
1 pending p.11
1 pending art 32 investigation
2 Unsubstantiated: 1] incidents; 25 known suspects & unknown number of other suspects (2NJPs fot false official statements alleging abuse).
3 Other; One detainee death investigated with no allegation of abuse.
Five investigations pending."

From the substantiated cases two glare out quite ominously:

"[6] 4th LARBn, 1st

3 Aug 03
3 Aug 03

LOCATION: Al Mumudiyah, Iraq (LSA Dogwood)
ALLEGATION: Mistreated detainee XXX by causing 2nd degree burns/blisters to back of of detainee's hands. Detainee requested to use hand sanitizer following a head call. As the detainee squatted down, a Marine guard suirted alchohol-based sanitizer into hands; excess cleaner formed puddle on floor. As the Marine guard turned to dispose of the empty bottle, XXXX lit a match & threw onto the puddle of hand sanitizer. The liquid ignited, & flames burned the detainee's hands, causing large blisters.


SPCM 5 Apr 04
Guilty of Art 128 assault with likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm.
Confinement 90 days,
Red to E-2


[7] 2nd Bn 2d MAR
(2/2 is based at Camp Lejeune NC with 2d MARDIV


13 Apr 04
15 Apr 04

SUSPECTS: (1) XXXXXXX shocked victim. (2) XXXXXXXX helped PFC Sting operate (3) XXXXXXXXX-escort for victim while he was shocked. (4) XXXXXXXXX-HET NCO, present during incident (5) discussed shocking detainees before

LOCATION: Al Mahmudiya, Iraq (2/2 holding area)

ALLEGATION: XXXXXXX reported he witnessed XXXXXXXX & XXXXX shock an Iraqi detainee with an electric transformer; that XXXXXXX held the wires against the shoulder area of the detainee & that the detainee "danced" as he was shocked. The detainee-victim was released on 14 April & cannot be located.

(vice NCIS)

(1) GCM 14 May 04 Camp Fallujah, Iraq Guilty of assault, cruelty & maltreatment, dereliction, & conspiracy to assault Iraqi detainee.
SENTENCE: 1 yr conf; red E-1 total forf; BCD

(2) SPCM 14 May 04 Camp Fallujah, Iraq Guilty of cruelty & maltreatment, dereliction, False official stmt, orders violation, & conspiracy to commit assault
SENTENCE: 8 mos conf , red E-1, total forf, BCD

(3) Pending SPCM

(4) Pending p11. SNM not in room, ordered Marines to stop when heard commotion & reported it to others.

(5) Pending GCM

(1) & (2) disciplinary action completed

(3) Pending SPCM 8 Jul 04

(4) Pending p11

(5) Pending GCM 24-28 Ju 04"

Yet sir, you continue to treat this matter as if it were only some legalistic matter, worthy only of intellectual endeavor. I found this passage particularly shocking:

"What about the critics' outrage that the memo reportedly said that inflicting moderate or fleeting pain does not necessarily constitute torture? For heaven's sake, this was a legal memo, not some advocacy paper. If the attorneys' research led them to that conclusion, we must not shoot the messengers for delivering their finding."

Sadly. you then proceed to show in your column the kind of immaturity your side has shown more then once when it knows it's position is morally indefensible. You argue that in any case Gonzales's little memo had nothing whatsoever to do with the policy followed at Sarpooza and Abu Ghraib. But there is a "smoking gun". One can say that the President wouldn't have had to approve of torture as defined by Gonzales and Bybee, but according to the January 24 memo from Gonzales to the President, Bush certainly did approve of everything that Gonzales had suggested:

" On January 18, I advised you (the President) that the Department of Justice had issued a formal opinion concluding that the Geneva Convention III on the Treatment of Prisoners of War (GPW) doeas not apply to the with al Qaeda. I also advised you that DOJ's opinion concludes that there are reasonable grounds for you to conclude that GPW does not apply with respect to the conflict with the Taliban. I understand that you decided that GPW does not apply and, accordingly, that al Quaed and Taliban detainees are not prisoners of war under the GPW."

Next, as if to give himself cover in case it all goes wrong, Gonzales advises Bush that could "as a matter of policy, decide to apply the principles of GPW to the conflict with al Qaeda and the Taliban."

Then afterwards he like any other good advisor gives Bush the pros and cons, ( where he excuses the rush from morality to expediency behind the purely legalistic construct that if he doesn't apply the GPW to either of these entities there will be no basis for him to apply it later - he will have set the precedent) he goes ahead and advises against applying the GPW. At this point, because Mr. Gonzales says that GPW III doesn't apply to guerilla armies and revolutionary governments it would be interesting to find how the Nuremberg Trials dealt with German anti-partisan warfare in their proceedings. Certainly anything to do with prisoners and noncombatants was treated as a war crime there.

In any case, the evidence that there was a top-down application of a policy of near torture emanating from the higher echelons, and that Mr. Gonzales knowingly enabled it, is also quite clear at the other end. That senior officers were following that line of thinking is clear in the emails sent by certain operatives in the FBI:

"We did advise each supervisor that went to GITMO to stay in line with Bureau policy and not deviate from that. I went to GITMO with XXXX early on and we discussed the effectiveness XXXXXXXXXXXXXX with the SSA. We (BAU and ITOS1) had also met with General's Dunlevey & Miller explaining our position (Law Enforcement techniques) vs, DoD. Both agreed the Bureau has their way of doing business and DoD has their marching orders from the Sec Def. Although the two techniques differed drastically both Generals believed they had ajob to accomplish. It was our mission to gather critical intelligence and evidence XXXXXXXXXXXXXX in furtherance of FBI cases. In weekly meetings with DOJ we often discussed XXXXXXXXXXX techniques and they were not effective on producing Intel that was reliable. XXXXXXXX (SES) XXXXXXXXXXX(SES)XXXXXXXXXXXXX(now SESXXXXXXXX at the time) and XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX(SES Appointee) all from DOJ Criminal Division attended meetings with FBI. We all agreed XXXXXXXXXXXXXX were going to be an issue in the military commission cases. I know XXXXXXXX brought this to the attention of XXXXXXXXXXXX.

One specific example was XXX. Once the Bureau provide DoD with the findings XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX they wanted to pursue expeditiously their methods to 'get more out of him' XXX. We were given a so called deadline to use our traditional methods. Once our timeline XXXXXXXXXXXX was up XXX took the reigns. We stepped out of the picture and XXX ran the operation XXXXXXXXXXX FBI did not participate at the direction of myself. XXXXXXXXX and BAU UCXXXXXXX. We would not recieve IRs on the results of the process".

It goes on to state:

"I voiced concerns that the intel produced was nothing more than what FBI got using simple investigative techniques ( following the trail of the detainee in and out of the US compared to the trail ofXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX was providing XXXXX portion of the briefing."

It ends with:

"After allowing XXXXXXXX to produce nothing, I finally voiced my opinion concerning the information. The conversations were somewhat heated. XXXXX agreed with me. XXXXX finally admitted the information was the same info the Bureau obtained. It still did not prevent them from continuing the XXXXXXXX methods'. DOJ was with me at GTMO XXXXXX during the time".

Iraq and Guantanamo are two different places, thousands of miles apart, yet it seems that the same permissive attitude towards control and discipline of detainees is quite evident. That can only stem from examples that were set, and the atmosphere that was created. And that could only come from the top. Mr Gonzales must not be allowed to become Attorney General.

And I would like to conclude with something I consider the most damning evidence of all, proof of the "ends justifies the means" attitude - in your own words Mr. Limbaugh:

"Why do so many critics jump to the defense of this depraved enemy we're fighting, whether by leaping to the conclusion the Marine in Fallujah "murdered" the enemy soldier who could have been pretending to sleep, or presuming that our government lawyers are anxious to condone the abuse of terrorist prisoners?

How about just once giving those in charge of managing our national security and those directly putting their lives on the line the benefit of the doubt?

Does this mean we assume our guys can do no wrong? Of course not. Does it mean we become barbaric like our enemy? Never. But it does mean that those of us out of harm's way ought to appreciate that we're in a brutal war against an unimaginably wicked enemy breaking every conceivable rule. So we need to cut our guys some slack".

Well Mr. Limbaugh, one small problem. Where we treat with our prisoners, we are in control. It's all happening under our watch. Are we al Qaeda now? Do we become our enemy, and justify it because we fight him? Then all we are doing is replacing one executioner with another, and the world will not be better off. "Torture Begins at the Top"

Human Rights First - Documents

A.C.L.U. FOIA Documents"

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Medals of Myopia

Bush Bremer Frank, originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

The Self-Important Honor Themselves.

Ye see yon birkie ca'd 'a lord,'
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that?
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a cuif for a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that,
The man o' independent mind,
He looks an' laughs at a' that.*

* Robert Burns "A Man's A Man For A' That"

So Dubya decided to honor his first class stupidity, for he said that it is good. One hundred thousand dead Iraqis didn't attend this noble function. They were busy thinking of all of the interrupted celebrations that they died at, and the ones that they will not be attending. But it's allright for Bremer, Franks, and Tenet. How easy it must be to get these medals. Let's see, why not invade a country? But then I'd want make sure that I had a sufficient amount of men to hold the damn thing with, not just take it! And I'd also make sure that no one from the enemy army goes home unitl he surrenders his weapon, and is properly paroled after at least two years as a POW! God, what a disorganized coward I am! And speak of intelligence, where did Tennant learn the spy trade, the George B. Mcllellan School of Espionage? Did he get the address for the "Reds Under The Beds School of Geopolitics" from a comic book? Let us review just to make sense, just what did these gents do to deserve their honors.

L. Paul Bremer - Chief Civil Administrator of Iraq, whose duties were to: Bring order to the country, ensure the economic stability of Iraq, and introduce democratic reforms into a new Iraqi government. And so, to these ends what does he do? Knowing he doesn't have enough men to continue a protracted war he virtually negotiates a surrender where he disbands the Iraqi Army, and allows the ex-soldiers to keep their arms! And what great economic plan of recovery is in place for the Iraqi people? The one that the neocons sneak in thinking to brainwash shell-shocked civilians into accepting unrestricted, unregulated capitalism on their persons, and international control over their economy. Hail the new economic dumping ground! He fired tens of thousands of government bureaucrats, teachers, laborers, practically the whole infrastructure of Iraq, and farmed out the job of rebuilding Iraq to foreigners! You know, SOMEBODY built those Presidential Palaces, airfields, schools, mosques, bases. You didn't need Haliburton to come over and put together your electrical grid when local boys could do it cheaper.

From Disinfopedia:

"Even among the religious opposition, philosophies and actions differ. Many Sunni Arabs are convinced that America is there to obliterate Iraq's identity and turn it into an economic colony. Some have chosen to confront these alleged U.S. machinations politically. Others have chosen the route of insurgency."

And now Mr. Tenet: From Disinfopedia:

Long before the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States, Tenet focused on the growing threat of terrorism, particularly from Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist group, and the nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran. On September 15, 2001, at Camp David, he presented the Worldwide Attack Matrix, an outline of an anti-terrorism campaign in 80 countries. However, the CIA was unable to prevent the attacks and this is seen as a major failure.

Furthermore the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq following the 2003 invasion by US, British and international forces has proved unproductive and no major stockpiles of WMD were found following the occupation of the country. The case of the invading governments for a legitimate war against Iraq had been based largely on the threat of WMDs in the hands of Saddam Hussein, supposedly on the strength of reliable intelligence assessments, including evidence that could not itself be made public. Thus a failure subsequently to find any banned weapons or programs became a considerable embarrassment for Tenet and the CIA.

The resignation of both Tenet and CIA Deputy Director James Pavitt in June 2004 is speculated by some to be directly related to this failure to find the WMDs that the United States used to justify invasion. For example, Admiral Stansfield Turner (retired), director of the CIA under President Carter, said (Boston Herald, June 4, 2004): "I think the president feels he's in enough trouble that he's got to begin to cast some of the blame for the morass that we are in Iraq on to somebody else and this was one subtle way to do it."

According to another report, by veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward in his book Plan of Attack, Tenet privately lent his personal authority to the intelligence reports about WMDs in Iraq. At a meeting in December 2002 the is said to have assured the President that the evidence against Saddam amounted to a "slam dunk case".

And what about the "yellowcake" forgery?

The documents had long been suspected as frauds by US intelligence at the time of these 2003 presentations. In early 2002, Ambassador Joseph Wilson had been dispatched to Niger to investigate the documents. On February 22, 2002 Wilson reported to the CIA and State Department that the information was "unequivocally wrong" and that the documents had been forged.

On March 7, 2003, only days before the invasion, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released results of his analysis of the documents. Reportedly, it took IAEA officials only a matter of hours to determine that these documents were fake. Using little more than a Google search, IAEA experts discovered indications of a crude forgery, such as the use of incorrect names of Niger officials. As a result, the IAEA reported to the U.N. Security Council that the documents were "in fact not authentic."

"Under certain circumstances, the exposure of a covert government agent would violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years. The act applies itself to a person who "learns the identify of a covert agent and intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States." [2] The Novak column did describe Plame as an "operative", but did not use the description "covert". Novak has stated that the CIA made "a very weak request" that he not name Plame publicly. columnist James Taranto suggests that this indicates the absence of "affirmative measures to conceal" necessary for a violation of the law. [3]

The matter is currently under investigation by the Justice Department and the FBI. Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation in December 2003. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald currently heads the investigation. Because the Justice Department is a part of the Bush administration, some believe that rapid and effective action is unlikely.

David Corn had predicted that the investigation would die in the CIA -- that George J. Tenet would protect the Bush White House through his purported loyalty to it. Anonymous political weblog Just One Minute (JOM) writes : "Evidently not. One guess - Mr. Tenet, pondering Bush's declining poll numbers and faced with in-house annoyance, decided to do the right thing. One presumes that, with Congress back in town, Mr. Tenet checked with his supporters on both sides of the aisle before proceeding." Both Mark Kleiman and Josh Marshall have made recent comments on the matter, according to JOM."

And General Franks?

How could he calmly accept a plan miuscalculates the amount of troops necessary to hold a country, as well as invade it?

This from Disinfopedia:

"Following Turkey's decision to deny any use of its territory, the U.S. was forced to abandon a planned simultaneous attack from north and south, so the primary bases for the invasion were in Kuwait and other Persian Gulf nations. One result of this was that one of the divisions intended for the invasion was forced to relocate and was unable to take part in the invasion until well into the war. Many observers felt that the U.S. devoted insufficient troops to the invasion, and that this (combined with the failure to occupy cities) put them at a major disadvantage in achieving security and order throughout the country when local support failed to meet expectations."

And again from Wikipedia:

"Looting took place in the days following. It was reported that the National Museum of Iraq was among the looted sites. The assertion that US forces did not guard the museum because they were guarding the Ministry of Oil and Ministry of Interior is apparently true. According to U.S. officials the "reality of the situation on the ground" was that hospitals, water plants, and ministries with vital intelligence needed security more than other sites. There were only enough US troops on the ground to guard a certain number of the many sites that ideally needed protection, and so, apparently, some "hard choices" were made."

Wikipedia - George Tenet

Disinfopedia - Occupation Forces in Iraq

Disinfopedia - Iraqi Insurgency

Wikipedia - Duelfer Report

Wikipedia - 2003 Invasion of Iraq

Wikipedia - Valerie Plame

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"You Go To War With The Army You Have"

Does Rumsfeld Even Have a Conscience?

What am I supposed to think? Here is this man, basically second-in-command to the Commander-in-Chief, who was all up in that about being "patriotic", and how our "brave boys" were there to bring democracy to Iraq, just like a thousand other neocon politicos who thump their chests about how proud they are of "our men and women in Iraq", yet they couldn't even come up with scratch to harden the very Humvees the guys need as personnel carriers. And yet in the face of all that "Rummy" seeks to impress with his "candor." His unfeeling matter-of-factness is chilling. What gets me is the blindness that they went into this thing with. But then isn't that how all disasters begin? "Oh sure! we don't need that many lifeboats on the Titanic. She's 'unsinkable'!" "We don't need to de-ice the Challenger!" They didn't want to pay their way. "You can fight wars on the cheap these days!" After all it ain't the Soviet Union we're fighting right? "Camel jockeys!" Yeah, sure! And the VC during "Tet" were just a bunch of "gooks!" Well GI's, guys and gals, you are passengers on the new Titanic! Men and women as mere commodities! Rummy's cannon fodder!

Just now I'm watching a National Geographic Ultimate Explorer about how female suicide bombers are the new phenomenon in terrorism. An old woman in Palestine is saying how she raised her son to be a suicide killer, and now calls herself "Mother of the Struggle", and I keep thinking how is it that we never seem to understand that just as the terror campaign is as much political and emotional as it is tactical, so must the response be. We keep responding as if this were nothing more than action movie. Send in Will Smith, Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt! Drop a few grenades, some fancy commando moves and voila! Instant justice! Except that the next terrorist is engendered within the heart, the cry for revenge after every one of our actions. You see, at this level it's a matter of friend and family. Watch them suffer, and you will learn hate. See them die and you will learn revenge. Let this happen day-to-day like water, dripping from a faucet, and you will learn terrorism. If that vacuum of hate is not filled with the hope of diplomacy and rebuilding, revenge can become a mortally lethal thing. Sadly then, to some it becomes a way of life. And so in a land like Iraq, you never know where the next recruit for the dark armies of lethal hate will come from. Therefore, there are no front lines. you cannot point to some fortification and say: "There is the enemy!", or "The enemy is down here!" The enemy is in front of you, behind you, and right beside you. And in a country where you are the occupier, and the people hate you, the enemy needs no camouflage. There are no front lines! There are no rear echelons! If you aren't going to employ diplomacy, and politics, any compound, any vehicle any toilet even must therefore be armored!

But the neocons didn't think about the revenge. They never thought to use diplomacy, or hope to reduce the chance of terrorism. They thought that the "Shock and Aw" shell shock would be enough to make the changes into the new Frankenstate they wanted to set up. They didn't dream the the "Shock and Aw" would ware off so soon. So they chose to think they could fight war on the cheap, that they didn't need that many soldiers. Now, two years later we have "stop loss". We commandeer National Guard units, tell old men to get back into uniform! And we violate the laws of decency! Perhaps Rummy won't be satisfied with mistreating prisoners. God! how he must miss "Free Fire Zones!" Our men, in order to survive are forced to improvise at great personal danger. Four thousand wounded so far! And how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead? And the many-headed hydra of terrorism doesn't die if you fight it with weapons alone. You need to show these people a future! Ah but I forget that the neocons have already show the Iraqis the future, and it doesn't include them! And yet, these fools refuse to see the train wreck before them! They still want to win the war on the cheap, without body armor, without adequate protection for our men and women!

And so the Noncholant Man strides forward with temerity! To men who have given their lives and possibly their futures he stands there, and with brazenness he takes little care ot hide, has the nerve to say: "You go to war with the army you have!" What a pep talk! Just the thing a young man who gave his last full measure wants to hear from his grateful leaders! You're on your own boys and girls! Welcome to Khe Sanh!

McCain Attacks Rumsfeld

Rumsfeld the Bungler

Send Rumsfeld to the Battlefields

McCain Voices Lack of Trust in Rumsfeld

Sunday, December 05, 2004


Originally uploaded by Wazdat!.
I don't know what to make of him.

"Some view him as an underdog who beat the odds, as others say his rise was political and cite ex-aides' scandal" says a headline from Newsday. He is most definitely a puzzle. You have a Bernard Kerik for every faction. You either love him, or hate him. You either love him as the jingoistic hero of 9/11 that was "right in the thick of things" according to the New York Post, or you are suspicious of him as Newsday's Ellis Henican is.

The story, if you listen to the right can be fairly maudlin. "Mr. Kerik, 49, grew up without knowing his mother, a tough youth in Paterson, N.J., where he usually cut classes from Eastside High School. He learned years later that his mother was a convicted prostitute, possibly killed by a pimp." says the Washington Times. He dropped out of highschool, but got his equivalency degree before joining the Army. He was shipped off to South Korea where was an MP. There, he met a Korean girl, had an affair from which a child resulted. He left the military to do private security work in Saudi Arabia protecting VIPs from terrorists. Most say that he was a bodyguard for the royal family.

"After a stint supervising a jail in New Jersey," the Times goes on, "he became a New York police officer, starting out walking a beat in Times Square when it was still largely the domain of seedy characters and street hustlers. He was promoted to detective and worked undercover arresting drug dealers. He grew a long ponytail to look the part."

The New York Post fairly beatifies him. "Kerik's bona fides as a cop — and his personal bravery — are beyond question. A former undercover narcotics detective, he received the NYPD's coveted Medal of Valor after a 1991 drug bust in Washington Heights."

People sing praises of Kerik as a director of the New York City Department of Corrections. They say that he decreased inmate violence by 93 percent. The TimesOnline crows about the fact that Kerik's wife is Syrian, a fact that is supposed to appeal to
Arab Americans.

A tae kwan do black belt, Kerik showed what a tough guy he was by defending Bush's record at the RNC convention. He is also praised for attending the funerals of the police officers who died on 9/11.

So, say the loyal Bushies he was picked to train the Iraqi Police. And now Bush wants him to replace Tom Ridge as Homeland Security chief.

Well, there is the other way of looking at this man:

"He's a personal and professional time bomb the Bushies will learn to regret.' says Ellis Henican of Newsday. He goes on: "That's certainly the message that smart law-enforcement professionals in New York were exchanging yesterday, as they shook their heads in disbelief at Kerik's latest career goal.

"He couldn't run the Rikers commissary without getting greedy and making a mess, in a jam," one correction veteran said. "Now he's gonna be in charge of the Department of Homeland Security? Let's just hope the terrorists don't decide to come back."

This former subordinate was referring to just one of many petty scandals that have hung over Kerik's career. When he ran Correction, nearly $1 million of tobacco-company rebates were diverted into an obscure foundation Kerik was president of. This was for cigarettes bought with taxpayer money and then sold at inflated prices to jail inmates. But this rebate money - would kickbacks be a better word? - got spent entirely outside the normal rules for public funds.

No one was criminally charged. But a whole rash of IRS rules were seemingly violated. One board member quit in protest when the foundation treasurer refused to provide him with financial reports. And no one has ever explained where all the money went.

It was a typical Kerik deal. He behaved from start to finish like normal rules didn't apply to him."

As for his work in Iraq, some say that it leaves a lot to be desired. The weekness of the Iraqi police is said by many to be one the most significant problems the the military has, and I may conjecture, could be a significant obstacle to free elections in Iraq. He is accused of placing emphasis on quantity of troops trained rather than quality. According to The Guardian Weekly:

"The obsession with figures disguised a poorly thought-out retraining programme and significant shortfalls in the most basic equipment, including radios, guns, flak jackets and cars. Fewer than half the police had been retrained. Most worryingly, at least a third were deemed so incompetent or reliable that this summer US commanders decided they should simply be sacked and handed a pay-off worth a total of $60m. Recruitment has begun again, much more slowly and this time with longer retraining programmes."

The results of the so-called "training" is that at the beginning of the Fallujah uprising, when the police were supposed to spearhead the counterinsurgency attack, many either ran away, or joined up with the insurgents. In any case, they proved to be ineffective, and the army had to once again take the lead. They have so far proved incapable of defending themselves against suicide attacks, and police stations in Mosul have been overrun by insurgents. Three fourths of the 4000 strong force deserted or joined the insurgents, and the police chief was arrested on suspicion of helping the rebels. Kerick was supposed to have remained in Iraq 6 months, but he left in 4. The the implication of many is that he left a mess. Again to quote the Guardian Weekly: "After the fighting subsided, the US commander in Mosul admitted he was now facing a colossal job repairing the damage with elections less than two months away. "We have the daunting task of rebuilding a legitimate and loyal police force in the city, and that's going to take a long time - and we don't have a long time," said Brigadier General Carter Ham."

But flaws in Kerik's character could be detected earlier before Iraq. He was accused of flaunting his celebrity only a month after 9/11, writing and publishing his life story "The Lost Son", and of playing fast and loose with his position as Police Commissioner. Kerik was accused of using police photographs of the wreckage of the WTC site for his book, and wound mup paying $2,500 on a Conflict of Interest Board finding that he used 3 NYC cops to go to Ohio to investigate details of his mother's background for his book, and that wasn't the only time his attempt to use his popularity for profit clashed with his job. According to Newsday:

"Kerik found himself in the middle of another controversy in early 2002, when his publisher, Judith Regan, lost her cell phone in a Fox television studio. Suspecting theft, Regan contacted the NYPD.

Police officials dispatched a homicide lieutenant and squad, who went on to visit the homes of several Fox employees, said attorney Robert Simels, who represented several of the workers. Calling it an "outrageous abuse of power," Simels filed a complaint with the city conflicts board, but it is unclear whether the board came to a decision. A board official declined to say."

So what is he? The great paragon of virtue and strength that the President has chosen to protect our way of life, and ensure our security? Or is he the sloppy and corrupt weak hook on the gate that could simply be lifted up by the thief to swing the gate wide open - and let bin-Laden in?

Some view him as an underdog who beat the odds, as others say his rise was political and cite ex-aides' scandal

Kerik's life not all an open book

Bernard Kerik: Controversial figure, complex legacy

Give Kerik a chance to secure the nation

Friday, December 03, 2004

Orwell's Minitrue

Zwillinge 2
Originally uploaded by christopfer.
It all seems so simple, lie to the enemy.

Limbaugh & Co. really doesn't get the point. But thank you anyway for the transcript of your December 1 show where you showed me the LA Times article, about the network's fear of losing credibility. Because to my Machiavellian cynicism the credibility of the media is far too valuable to the military liar and thief to be bandied about as carelessly as Dubya has done with Fallujah! Actually credibility is the true propagandist's real ally, and no good storyteller was ever careless with it. Back in World War II people were told the truth more often than they were lied to. Whenever a specific action was required, then at that moment people had the wool pulled over their eyes in order to ensure the success of the mission. They were not lied to constantly, or wastefully, and certainly not as part of social experiments. Fallujah, dear Rush was an example of how not to do it.

In war, when you lie to the people you may lie about the target of a mission to misdirect the eyes of the enemy. But once the outcome of the mission is given, the only concern planners must have is if the outcome would in any way reveal your method of acquiring the intelligence your mission was based on. In WWII upon which you base so much of your arguments, the British allowed the Germans to bomb Coventry to the ground so that they wouldn't give away to them the fact that they broke the Enigma code. As for psyops, the only population you really need to worry about convincing to surrender and cooperate is that of the enemy. What the homefront needs is emotional encouragement and justification. That means telling a version of the truth, yes you can narrow it down to the reasons that justify your war, just make sure you have at least one fact that can stand up to scrutiny please! Has Bush really done his job as far as propaganda at home and abroad are concerned? No. A good propaganda campaign will always convince the home front that "our cause" is just, and that the enemy is evil. It will always ensure that no emotional sympathy for the enemy will arise and there would be a great deal of satisfaction in vanquishing the enemy. On the psyops side the campaign must persuade the enemy's population that "we" are invincible, both in argument and means, and confrontation can only mean defeat.The fight is emotional and cerebral. "We" have the just cause not you. "You" are the criminals, "we" - the victims aroused to war. "We" are to be feared, do not try to maneuver, for "we" will outmaneuver you. Do not try to fool us for "we" will always outsmart you. "We" will outfight you, and leave you homeless.

There are three kinds of propaganda: "White Propaganda", or the kind that comes from an open source, "Gray Propaganda", which pretends to be from a neutral source but actually comes from the enemy, and "Black Propaganda", which pretends to come from a friendly source, but is actually from the enemy. Let me put it more succintly. "White Propaganda", is what you openly tell the enemy yourself, "Gray Propaganda", is when you piggyback your message from a so-called "neutral" source, for an opportunity to A give your side more credibility abroad, B isolate your enemy, and C make your enemy more credulous. "Black Propaganda", is when you try to plant your propaganda by gaining the enemie's trust using a source that the enemy will believe. In all three, the Bush neocon administration failed - miserably.

"White" propaganda is when you are talking to the world. It is you putting your voice to your arguments. Your first duty is to persuade your people that your cause is right. Then you persuade the world! George Bush failed in that. He based his argument for war against Iraq on the flimsiest of arguments that was a longshot to prove, thereby shredding his credibility in the first place. And when his representatives in the UN and Colin Powell shredded their credibility in front of the Security Council, he treated their failure as some kind of ideological success, and went ahead with the war anyway. As for "Gray" propaganda, after alienating just about everybody in the world, where could the Bush administration ever find any "neutral" source to carry water for him anywhere. Our only attempt at "Black" propaganda, Alhurra has no credibility. The Iraqis would no more believe a so-called "Arab" TV network operating from Springfield Illinois, than the British in WWII woould believe the ramblings of "Lord Haw Haw", coming straight from Nazi Berlin.

As for disinformation, was it really wise to tell the enemy 2 weeks in advance where you were going to attack him, and not bluff him as to the real target of your offensive? If you tell him that you are attacking Fallujah, then first attack Aadamiyah! Real disinformation takes advantage of the enemie's fears to misdirect them so they don't see the sucker punch! Again Rush, let's go back to WWII. The Allies used Hitler's fears to fool him into believing the Calais scam, when they were really gunning for Normandy! That's disinformation Rush, and yes we kept it secret, and by the way Eisenhower came down like a ton of bricks on anyone who hinted at what the true target was! I would not go announcing "Hey Zarquawi! we're gunning for Fallujah!" and give him a two week head start!

Rush Limbaugh - Psyops Transcript

LA Times - "PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror"


Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Social Captive, Towing the Line like Calves to the Slaughter

Social Captive
Originally uploaded by Wazdat!.

"In Germany they came first for the Communists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me--and by that time no one was left to speak up". *

* Martin Niemöller 1892-1984.

"Stop complaining," said the farmer,**
"Who told you a calf to be"
Why don't you have wings to fly away
Like the swallow so proud and free?"

How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer's night.

Dona dona dona dona
Dona dona dona down
Dona dona dona dona
Dona dona dona down

Calves are easily bound and slaughtered
Never knowing the reason why.
But whoever treasures freedom,
Like the swallow must learn to fly

How the winds are laughing..."

** Dona Dona
(Original Yiddish words by Aaron Zeitlin and Shalom Secunda;
English translation by Arthur Kevess and Teddi Schwartz)

I had a dream last night. It was a frightening dream. We were coming home from choosing a bedspread for my bed. To my surprise, there was someone there already who was dressed like a maid folding the old bedspreads into squares. She looked at me with this disdainful look and said: "Your bed must be made according to regulations." A man was standing by her with a long pony tail, like some Hun. Just earlier we had heard on the news that every home in America was required to have a portrait of a certain national hero prominently displayed in the house, and those new not having that portrait could be arrested. This man had a copy of that portrait in his hand. I remember feeling revolted and angry. My mother and I walked up to him, and I asked him indignantly: "Who are you to decide what can go up on my wall?" "I am the block captain." he replied. "And you'd do better not to oppose me, 'cause I can cause you a whole lot of trouble. You've got to show your support, or we'll take you away!", he continued. He gave every indication that he was a member of some secret police, and gave me a glare that would scare Genghis Khan. He hung up the portait. Then he left. My mother was livid. "Let's get rid of this!" she yelled. But I restrained her because I saw the picture morph into one of Josef Stalin! i told her: "Mom we can't do that, or we'll both be taken away!" Last I remembered we were eating supper and Stalin was staring back at me.

So CBS is afraid to put on the commercial of a liberal Christian church protesting the discrimination in this country against gays and lesbians. Here is the exact wording of a letter that CBS sent to the United Church of Christ regarding it's "Night Club" commercial, that shows what it looks like if every church had a bouncer excluding all "undesirable" people (minorities, heretics, Christian and political, etc) and among the people excluded was a man who may have been gay. The commercial concluded that Christ would not have wanted this, and would've included everyone who came:

"CBS/UPN Network policy precludes accepting advertising that touches on and/or takes a position on one side of a current controversial issue of public importance. Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations, and the fact that the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the Networks.

While moot, we must advise that CBS/UPN does accept advertising from churches and religious organizations which
deliver secular messages that are beneficial to society in general. Nevertheless, advertising that proselytizes on behalf of any single religion is not acceptable. In our view, this commercial does proselytize."

So now CBS will toe the line. "Advertising that proselytizes on behalf of any single religion is not acceptable" is a very dangerous concept. Why not add: "Advertising that proselytizes on behalf of any single political philosophy is not acceptable"? Why not go on to: "Programming that proselytizes on behalf of any single political philosophy is not acceptable"? So now there are "religiously acceptable" forms of behavior? A Fahrenheit 451 scenario? It looks like it. Perhaps we should all be like sheep, meekly accepting our lot and not say anything "controversial". It's alright to portray "acceptable ideas" like violence, sex, and the mindless "people zoo" called "reality TV", but speak up for one particular thought, take up a position, speak on behalf of a group is now downright "offensive"? What others may call "offensive", I call democracy. If we allow this censorship to continue we will be no more than calves ready for the slaughter. "Dona Dona Don" anyone? How sad it would be if this country, so proudly born to freedom, should fall so low as to become a land fit for serfs and dictators. Our media have become like those calves meekly going to the slaughter, bending low to avoid the lash. Our society may soon follow, and whither democracy then?

You know, that United Churches in Christ spot reminds me of any one of the United Negro College Fund's commercials. Aren't they "proselytizing"? Aren't they speaking out on behalf of a certain group against a social evil? Think about it. What was so controversial about the message the UCC ad portrayed? All it did was portray the bigotted arrogance of some of the so-called "Christian" churches, and that Christ wouldn't have stood for that. It simply said: "This is what we are against, and here is what we are for. If you feel the same way, here is a place for you."

Anyone who wants to protest CBS's actions should go to this link:

People For The American Way petition for United Churches in Christ

United Churches in Christ "Night Club" ad

Fax From CBS to United Churches in Christ given to PFAW

Monday, November 22, 2004

More Tales of The Prairie

Originally uploaded by elston.
Our friends on K Street are circling the wagons.

I will try to tell the tale as best as I can, but you must understand that I am new to the ways of blogging and have yet to fully develope my research skills, and so I must allow for many voices to help me tell my tale.

The game is Political Machine. Because DeLay helped kill a tax bill against Indian casinos, Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon, says the Texas Observer, knew they could use their friendship with him to attract Indian Casino clients. As a matter of fact the Coushatta tribe of Louisiana gave most of their campaign contributions to Tom DeLay. Because DeLay is friends with Abramoff and Scanlon he is now a person of interest to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. DeLay moved to center stage after 3 of his fundraisers were indicted on the TRMPAC Texas Legislature matter. That little peccadillo has given Mr. DeLay 3 admonishments from the Ethics Committee.

The Texas Observer says that the whole Norquist to Coushatta paper trail shows how easy it was for Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon to funnel money to Republican political interests as well as enrich themselves. By engineering the downfall of Indian casinos and masquerading as their saviours they could fool the tribes into thinking that through them the tribes could buy political influence and reopen their casinos. Of course exorbitant fees and contributions were "required". Despite that, the Indians would get nothing. And so according to some, Abramoff, Scanlon, and Ralph Reed enriched themselves and helped their cause and their friends at the Native American's expense.

Grover Norquist wields a great deal of influence on K Street in Washington DC. On top of being head of Americans for Tax Reform, he is the manager for the K Street Project, whose goal some say, is to force corporate special interests to hire only Republican lobbyists for their business before Congress and the Executive. A kind of feudalism is in place. In such a situation it is wise to be grateful to those who befriend you. Abramoff and Scanlon understood this very well. Any net profits they had were compounded with contributions to right-wing Republican PACs and candidates. Abramoff himself became a Bush Pioneer and gave to DeLay's PACs $40,000. Scanlon, only a few years after paying off his college loans, gave $500,000 to the Republican governor's fund. And all of this was included with the money that they got from their Indian clients according to the Observer. This was what would interest the Indian Affairs Committee. The pipeline would last for 3 years, and Abramoff and Scanlon were the middlemen. The Observer states that there were emails regarding the ATR, and meeting politician's requests for money with Indian casino contributions.

The Observer states that Abramoff was an ideologue. He came to Washington DC from Hollywood where he worked as president of the right-wing Regency Entertainment, a very "politically incorrect" film production company. He went to college with Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, and Norquist. All knew each other from the College Republicans in Georgetown Lawschool. Norquist even worked for Abramoff on the College Republican National Committee. From college through Hollywwod to Washington, Abramoff worked for Ronald Reagan. He also took time for the International Freedom Alliance. Then he came back to the Potomac in Washington DC.

His friendship with DeLay began when he was introduced by Rabbi Daniel Lapin with whom he founded Towards Tradition, a Jewish-Christian interreligious understanding group. Soon he was helping Delay run for whip in the House of Representatives. DeLay's victory was very much Abramoff's doing. When the Republicans took over the House in 1994, lobbyists who knew Republican representatives were very valuable. Abramoff's first lobbying job was at Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds. He soon was to do better.

Again the Texas Observer:

"At a 1998 New Year’s dinner at the Saipan Hyatt Regency, held in honor of the Chinese owner of Saipan’s largest worker compound, DeLay recognized Abramoff as “one of my closest and dearest friends and your most able representative in Washington, D.C.” The two men, bound together by ideology and mutual hires, were a team. Abramoff later told a crowd of cheering College Republicans that “Tom DeLay is who we all want to be when we grow up.” The Marianas account brought in more than $6 million for Preston Gates, and the company seemed to go into mourning in 2001 when Abramoff was lured away by Greenberg Traurig, and Scanlon moved on to start his own public relations shop. It was Preston Gates’ good fortune that the two men moved on before they started working the Indian casino circuit."

Scanlon's rise was faster than Abramoff's. Once again the Observer states that Scanlon went straight out the army to a job as a Republican staffer. He joined the National Republican Congressional Committee. Then he became Tom DeLay's communications director. During the impeachment he headed up DeLay's war room. He was such a partisan that despite DeLay's promise not to whip the impeachment vote, Scanlon unofficially continued a rogue whipping operation.

It looks like Abramoff wanted to make use of Scanlon to make millions. It seems that a plan slowly hatched where Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon would make their own chances to scam relatively innocent but money-laden Indian casinos by cynically entrapping them by shut downs, and then offering their services and their access to Tom DeLay for a small fee, plus a few contributions to the G.O.P., and a few "foundations" and "charities". A total of $34 million in the case of the Coushattas. It would be a way to enrich themselves, and enrich their party. To create the situation that they could exploit, they needed someone who had the creditentials to create a grassroots anti-gambling movement. They needed someone whose reputation could persuade you that he was an anti-gambling crusader in earnest. That person was Ralph Reed.

As the former executive chairman of the Christian Coalition, he made a name for himself as a person who could get things done, and could use his influence to push the political agenda of the religious right. According to the CRNC:

"As Executive Director of the College Republican National Committee in from 1983-1985, Ralph assisted in managing one of the largest grassroots efforts in the history of the committee. Ronald Reagan’s reelection effort in 1984 saw more college students voting and working for a Republican in modern memory. Ralph founded Students for America after leaving the College Republican National Committee and immediately found success. The organization grew to one of the largest grassroots groups in the nation seemingly overnight.

As Executive Director of the Christian Coalition, he built one of the most effective grassroots organizations in modern American politics. During his tenure, the organization’s budget grew from $200,000 in 1989 to $27 million in 1996. Its support base grew from two thousand members to two million members and supporters."

Afterward, he went into the lobbying business after being set up for it by Karl Rove who was trying to recruit him for the upcoming Bush Jr. presidential campaign. Rove connected Reed to Enron. According to The Nation:

"Reed's involvement with the casino effort followed his departure from the Christian Coalition in 1997 and his reinvention of himself as a corporate lobbyist and campaign hatchet man. One of his first clients was the Enron Corporation--a deal arranged by Karl Rove when George W. Bush was starting to think about running for President in 2000. Rove wasn't ready to put Reed directly on a campaign payroll but presumably wanted to cultivate good will from Reed toward the coming Bush candidacy. Enron paid Reed's Century Strategies more than $300,000 to generate support for energy deregulation. In the 2000 GOP presidential primary, Reed justified his big Enron fee by helping to smear John McCain during the South Carolina primary. "

Most agree that he was just the man to help set up the hapless suckers for Abramoff and Scanlon.

An example of how the scam would work is the tale of the Tigua Indians of Texas. The story goes that in 2002, Reed worked to close down the Tigua's Speaking Rock casino. Attorney C. Bryant Rogers referred them to Abramoff who then brought in Scanlon. Now if a tribal council was reticent about hiring them, it's alleged that Abramoff and Scanlon were not above fixing the elections, although it hasn't been mentioned that this happened with the Tiguas. After being "hired" by the new council, Abramoff told them that he would work for free until the Tiguas received federal recognition and could open the casino, but persuaded them that Scanlon must be paid $4.2 million, and Abramoff's work must be secret.

After the "hiring" the fleecing began.

They asked the tribe to take out life insurance policies on tribal elders with death benefits going to the Eshkol Academy founded by Scanlon. More on that place later. The Tiguas were then asked to pay for a golf trip to Scotland for them and (unknown to them), Ralph Reed. The tribe refused. That junket would be the Choctaw's problem. Abramoff and Scanlon then got the Tiguas to contribute to various PACs and politicians.

Afterward it would be time to go through the motions. When Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut) and Representative Robert Ney (R- Ohio) were sponsoring the Help America Vote Act. Abramoff asked Ney to sponsor an amendment opening the Tigua's casino. He told Ney that Dodd supported such an amendment. In fact according to the Washington Post:

"Dodd issued a statement saying he never agreed to help the Tiguas. Ney, who has been close to Abramoff but now says he was duped by him, said he agreed to help the Tiguas only because Abramoff told him it was something Dodd wanted. The two men were chairmen of a House-Senate conference committee finalizing the election reform bill."

Ney denies any culpability. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

"Ney expressed outrage about the whole affair.

He issued a statement Wednesday saying that he felt 'duped' by Abramoff, whom he had known since the 1970s when both were active in Republican circles during college.

'Jack Abramoff repeatedly lied to advance his own financial interests. I, too, was misled, and I regret that I put faith in the representations that he made to me.'

Larry Noble of the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance and lobbying watchdog group, said it is not unusual for lobbyists to suggest that clients make political donations to lawmakers they hope to influence.

But the fact that the scheme went this far shows that Ney presumably 'would have been perfectly happy taking money from the tribes and trying to shepherd their provision through,' Noble said. 'This is not the way people like to think that legislation is done, but the reality is that it is all too common.'"

The online magazine went to state that Ney's former staffer Ned Volz worked with Abramoff, and now has a job at Greenberg & Traurig, Abramoff's old firm.

Needless to say, the Tiguas still don't have an operating casino today.

And this appears to have happened over a period of 3 years to five other tribes, all using the same formula. For instance, when they encountered opposition to their employment from a few members of the Coushatta council, the story is that they manipulated the elections and got a council that hired them. The Observer states that Bertney Langley, a council member who was suspicious of Abramoff and Scanlon lost an election:

"Langley believes the two D.C. lobbyists made him a lame duck. He was defeated in 2003, after serving two terms. He suspects that Abramoff and Scanlon manipulated the election to keep their majority on the council. 'Seventeen candidates ran in that election,' Langley said. In past tribal elections, he said, four to six candidates would vie for the open seats. 'They were diluting the vote by running all those candidates.' Another member of the tribe observed that several members of the same family were on the ballot: 'We’re a small tribe and we usually get together and decide which member of a family will run.' Documents released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee include detailed accounts of Abramoff and Scanlon running other tribal elections to install administrations they could control. ('Last night was amazing,' Abramoff writes in an e-mail sent the day after the Saginaw Chippewa 2001 election in Michigan. 'The slate of 8 kicked ass…We had less than three weeks to take 8 guys we never met before and get theme (sic) elected.')"

Now the money of the tribes was dealt with by 2 individuals on the council: Chief Lovelin Poncho and William G. Worfel. The other member, Leonard Battise usually voted with them. As said earlier, the Coushattas approved the contribution of $1 million to the Eshkol Academy, Scanlon's Yeshiva-like prep school that folded soon after Greenberg & Traurig asked Abramoff to resign.

Not including contributions almost $34,000,000 were paid to Abramoff and Scanlon. $24,000,000 was taken from vital services. $1,000,000 were given in questionable loans. The Observer said that Langley brought this to the attention of the council. Nothing came of this other than Langley gaining an ally in David Sickey a new council member.

Next came the issue of the Mississippi Choctaws being asked to refinance their casino the Golden Moon. According to the Clarion-Ledger, Council members Mack Jimmie and Alvin Ben opposed it, but Chief Phillip Martin said that there would be no consequences.

The Clarion-Ledger goes further:

"Jimmie and other tribal members petitioned the Tribal Election Committee for a referendum on the new loan but were turned down. An appeal of that ruling was rejected by the Choctaw's Supreme Court on Oct. 18. But challenges to Martin aren't expected to stop.

Melba Smith, president of the Pearl River Development Club, wrote Martin last month asking why Abramoff was hired without the tribal council's permission.

In her letter, Smith also asked what Choctaw programs would have been affected if the Golden Moon had not been refinanced. "How much of the tribal and tribal council's salaries (would) be cut?" Smith asked. She said she did not receive a reply to her letter."

Next, according to the Ledger, the Choctaws were asked to pay the $50,000 that the Tiguas wouldn't for the golfing trip to
Scotland, which they did.

And then Abramoff's and Scanlon's and maybe DeLay's and Reed's luck turned sour.

The Coushatta tribe's comptroller's memo got into the hands of of a reporter from Louisiana's Lake Charles American Press, and months later the Washington Post broke the story nationally.

According to the Observer the story of excessive lobbying and PR fees was confirmed by invoices from Capitol Campaign Strategies. Each invoice has very little information just the amount, date, and it was for "professional services":

American Press accounts of excessive lobbying and PR fees are confirmed by a set of Capitol Campaign Strategies invoices obtained by the Observer, which total $7,155,000—for a period between January and October of 2002:

"Capitol Campaign Strategies is the public relations firm owned by Scanlon; however, the company’s address—611 Pennsylvania Avenue SE—is a mail drop. As a public relations firm it is not subject to disclosure laws that would have pertained to Abramoff, a registered lobbyist. Each CCS invoice, four approved by Poncho and one by Worfel, is as stunning in its lack of itemized detail as in its amount. Entered on each invoice is only the date submitted, the description “professional services,” and the amount owed. The largest single billing, dated March 13, 2002, is $3,405,000.00. When Abramoff’s monthly retainer of $150,000 is added to the total, the Coushattas paid $8,655,000 for ten months of lobbying and public relations. To put that figure into perspective, General Electric paid two dozen lobbying firms $30.4 million, according to federal records compiled by The Washington Post, over the same three-year period that the Coushattas contracted with Abramoff and Scanlon, . In the ten-month period for which we found records, the 813-member Coushatta tribe was paying approximately the same amount of money for lobbying as one of the world’s largest corporations. At the end of their three-year relationship with Abramoff and Scanlon, the Coushattas actually outspent GE by about $3 million."

That the Indian casinos were being used for the benefit of the swindlers and their party is illustrated by the story that most of the "charities" and "foundations" that the tribes were asked to contribute to that were other than Republican political organizations, were basically front organizations. Says the Observer, everyone would get paid from these venues;

"The Coushattas had done considerably better with the lobbying firm of former Louisiana Senator Bennet Johnson, which charged them approximately $152,000 a year before Abramoff took over. The portly former senator also stuck to the basics of lobbying, avoiding the redistribution of wealth brought in by the $300 million-a-year casino operation that attracted Abramoff and Scanlon to the tiny sovereign nation in southwest Louisiana. If (Coushatta's lawyer) Kent Hance’s accountants never find the $1 million reportedly sent to the Eshkol Academy, they and the forensic accountants working for the federal task force in D.C. will find many other questionable entries. Some of the checks drawn on the Coushatta accounts are written to organizations that make Abramoff and Scanlon look like a regular Washington laugh riot.

When I asked Hance about the $566,000 'contribution' to the American International Center, he said it is probably considerably larger “perhaps more than one million.” The center was a “think tank” housed in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, in a house owned by Scanlon. It was operated by a former yoga instructor and a former lifeguard, both beach buddies of Scanlon. It apparently served as a conduit to move money from Scanlon to Abramoff, with at least $1.5 million in Indian client money moving through the center to Greenberg Traurig. A separate $2.4 million in Indian gaming lobby fees was passed through the center to Ralph Reed, the political consultant who once directed the Christian Coalition. Reed was also hired by Abramoff and Scanlon. To keep these huge sums off the lobbyist disclosure pages in the Senate clerk’s office, Scanlon’s PR firm did the billing then moved half the money to Abramoff, through companies or non-profit foundations they controlled."

So the fronts were used not only to fleece the money from the marks, but to launder the money and get it to the scam partners.

At least $2.4 million went to Ralph Reed, and though I'd give Greenberg & Traurig the benefit of a doubt because they at least behave as if they weren't aware of Abramoff's shenanigans by firing him, they supposedly got $1.5 million. Abramoff is said to have made so much money out of the Coushattas that in an embarrassing email to his accountant he couldn't explain $5 million.

Tom DeLay says the Observer. In a $283,000 list of "Coushatta Requests" approved by chief Poncho, $32,000 went to DeLay's two PACs TRMPAC and ARMPAC, though Abramoff later voided the TRMPAC check and it went to America 21 of Tenessee.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee's investigation is headed by outgoing Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and by Senator John McCain, the same John McCain that was smeared with the help of Ralph Reed, and also bears a grudge on Tom DeLay for opposing his campaign reform bill. Abramoff's and Scanlon's emails are said to be in the Committee's hands, and they are singing an opera!

The victims of this fraud were preyed upon in 3 ways. First they were attacked by a false shut-down intended to set them up. Then they were fleeced, and the lifelines of otherwise impoverished tribal economies were destroyed, and their infrastructures greatly crippled. The total monetary damage is said to be $66,000,000.

Texas Observer - "K Street Croupiers"

Las Vegas Sun - Indian lobbying mess thickens in Louisiana

Mississippi Clarion-Ledger - Senate committee probes lobbyist's ties

Gambling Magazine - Rep. Ney Says He Was 'Duped' By Abramoff

College Republican's National Committee - Alumni

Friday, November 19, 2004

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Coushatta Redux

Originally uploaded by NMCIL ortiz domney.
Well, there have been a few new wrinkles in the story of Ralphie, Jackie and Mikey.

Michael Scanlon has been corraled finally and put under oath by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. And lo and behold his friends in the Coushatta Tribe aren't so friendly any more! Seems Mikey bit the hand that fed him! Scanlon, along with Jack Abramoff, Abramoff's former lawfirm Greenberg Traurig are being sued for the $32 million they paid to keep the Jena Choctaws from setting up their casino in Louisiana.

Even sharks don't like being lunchmeat. According to NewsFlash, "Abramoff and Scanlon are being sued for overbilling, fraud, taking tribal money for personal use, negligent misrepresentation and unfair trade practices." Along with the money being repaid they are asking for damages.

Greenberg and Traurig are being accused of "failing to supervise Abramoff adequately.

I will leave it up to the Coushattas to say if they they knew just how these men went about getting rid of the competition for them, they didn't own up to it on the summons, they just know that they were being defrauded in the process.

You can get things done two ways. One sic "anti-gambling crusader" Ralph Reed on them, then come in as the white knights promising come hell or high water to get back that gambling license, or helping money rich tribes get rid of competition - by sicing "anti-gambling crusader" Ralph Reed on it. Along the way shake down the client for every cent you can.

Word is that Abramoff and Scanlon shook tribes down by methods like asking them to take out life insurance on tribal elders with death benefits going to a private academy supported by Scanlon, asking to pay for $50,000 golfing trip to Scotland for messrs Abramoff, Scanlon,Reed, and congressman Rob Ney. More about him later.

Of course, they'd go through the motions. No doubt results would in the end matter. After all the scam must have some longevity. So you find the easiest way to get he job done, and pad the bill. And so they'd cut corners by double crossing congressional representatives when in advocacy mode, and create false anti-gambling movements å la Mr. Reed.

This is where the Senate Indian Affairs Committee comes in. They were investigating an instance of this scam done to the Tigua Indians of Texas. Chairman Ben Nighthorse Campbell R-Colorado was livid. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

"'For 400 years people have cheating Indians,so you are not the first one,' Campbell, R-Colo., told Scanlon. 'But you are the problem with what's happening to American Indians.'

Carlos Hisa, the lieutenant governor of the Tigua said he was outraged when he learned Scanlon was paying moneu to Reed's anti-gambling group and then billing himself as the key to helping the tribe get it's casino back. ' A rattlesnake will warn you before it strikes. They did everything behind our backs'"

After the "righteous wrath" of Ralph Reed, came the "rescue" from Jack Abramoff, whom the Tigua contacted after their casino closed down. He introduced Scanlon who took $4.2 million for lobbying federal support for the license. Then he gave half of this to Abramoff.

Our two enterprising swindlers then promised the legislation would be attached to an election reform bill and had the support of the two chief sponsors Sen. Chris Dodd D-Conn, and Rep Rob Ney, R-Ohio. This is where the double cross comes in.

Ney says that he backed the Indian measure only because he was told that Dodd supported it. Dodd says he was never contacted. Someone was lying. Ney says he was duped.

If so then he wasn't the only politico to get fooled. We started this story with the Coushatta case and we will end this chapter of it there. Back to Louisiana.

When Abramoff and Scanlon and Reed were taking down the Jenas for the Coushattas, they made use of Rep. David Vitter's fight with then Governor Mike Foster who signed a compact with the Jenas on their casino. Vitter succeeded in shutting down the casino with what he thought was a legitimate anti-gambling committee called the Committee Against Gambling Expansion. But according to the Las Vegas Sun: "An attorney for the Coushattas said he was told by tribal leaders that the group was formed to stop casino projects that threatened the profits of tribes that already has casinos - in other word, anti-competition rather than anti-gambling." Then it was revealed that Ralph Reed and his company Century Strategies had raised money and support for this organization.

Reed of course, claims that his involvement was to simply to stop the gambling.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Watz Dat! News

Street Painting
Originally uploaded by Jetman Jake.
Guess what folks? I've decided to make my post titles links to sites or articles that are relevant to the subject of my daily post. Starting from my stuff on Alberto Gonzales on, just click on the post title to get the article or site! Neat huh?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Consequences Could Be Devastating!

Your opinion about Alberto Gonzales sounds well and good at the beginning. A rags to riches story we all want our politicians to have. It's the second half of the story that bothers me.

You mention that Judge Gonzales got his start in government when he "came to work" for George W. Bush. Then you gloss over his first job to go on to the Texas Supreme Court. Why is that sir? Tell me then, what did he do while he was general Counsel? Wasn't he the one who made clemency recommendations to help Bush decide which inmate deserves execution? And how did he carry out his charge when he made all those "bad people" go away to that undiscovered country called death? Was he in any way thoughtful? Did he look to see if just once there may not have been at least once a miscarriage of justice taking place?

So when Terry Washington was executed it did not matter to Mr. Gonzales in the least to inform the governor that the jury on his case was not informed that he was a man of diminished mental capacity, and was not told this when he was condemned to die? Surely he must have had enough paper and ink to do it since he devoted a third of the report to describing the details of the case. No matter how grisly the governor must know right? Yet he could not spare a single syllable on the simple phrase "diminished capacity"!

This case was typical of the short shrift Gonzales would give each capital case, spending no more than a half an hour on each case leaving gaping holes of evidence and information from the eyes of the governor. In capital cases, every bit of information matters, since after the execution there is no further appeal. Yet in forty nine out of fifty death-row cases clemency was denied, let alone not recommended. And who was the beneficiary of Gonzales' one and only recommendation of clemency? Henry Lee Lucas. I suppose you’d need to be a serial killer of Lucas' type to prove that there was something "not right". with you!

And if you think that this was a fluke, that peruse the Atlantic Monthly :

"Consider the case of Billy Conn Gardner, whose death-penalty case was plagued by issues of incompetent counsel, dubious witness testimony, and unheard mitigating evidence.

Gonzales's report to Bush gave no sense of these circumstances. It matter-of-factly described the robbery of a high school cafeteria in Dallas, during which Gardner, wearing a stocking to obscure his face, allegedly shot and fatally wounded Thelma Row, sixty-four, a cafeteria worker. Also in the cafeteria at the time was Paula Sanders, a co-worker who had told her husband, Melvin, that several thousand dollars in daily cafeteria receipts were processed in a back room at the school. Melvin, who drove the getaway car, claimed that he had persuaded Gardner to participate.

Paula, who knew Gardner, said that she could provide no description of the assailant, because her back was turned. Before Row died, however, she had been able to describe a man with a 'bony face ... and a two-inch goatee.' Gonzales didn't tell Bush that the state was unable to produce a single witness who recalled ever seeing Gardner with a goatee, or that two witnesses to the shooting'Carolyn Sims and the school custodian, Lester Matthews' described a man with reddish-blond hair, whereas Gardner's hair was black."

And this from the Center For American Progress:

'As chief legal counsel for then-Gov. Bush in Texas, Gonzales was responsible for writing a memo on the facts of each death penalty case.' Bush decided whether a defendant should live or die based on the memos. An examination of the Gonzales memoranda by the Atlantic Monthly concluded, "Gonzales repeatedly failed to apprise the governor of crucial issues in the cases at hand: ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence, even actual evidence of innocence." His memos caused Bush frequently to approve executions based on "only the most cursory briefings on the issues in dispute." Rather than informing the governor of the conflicting circumstances in a case, "The memoranda seem attuned to a radically different posture, assumed by Bush from the earliest days of his administration 'one in which he sought to minimize his sense of legal and moral responsibility for executions."

As a Justice of the Texas Supreme Court Justice Gonzales was a man of dubious morality. The allegations of judicial bribery are numerous according to Texans for Public Justice:

" the weeks between February oral arguments and this month's decision in Henson v. Texas Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance, Justices Nathan Hecht and Alberto Gonzales each collected a $2,000 contribution premium from the Texas Farm Bureau (which runs the defendant insurance company in this case).

Just before January oral arguments in the other case, Embrey v. Royal Insurance, Justice Gonzales picked up a $2,500 contribution premium from the law firm defending that insurer. Justices Gonzales, Hecht and Owen also received another $2,500 each from Thompson Coe Cousins & Irons last fall.

Defending the insurance industry contribution in the Henson case, Justice Gonzales said, 'In the whole scheme of things, $2,000 isn't going to have any kind of influence on me.'

'In the whole scheme of things' Justice Gonzales did not need the conflict-ridden money that he took from the Texas Farm Bureau. Gonzales raised $1,047 for every dollar his opponent raised.

If $2,000 won't influence a justice, try $55,000. This is how much money Texans for Lawsuit Reform rounded up for Gonzales. TLR money accounts for 10 percent of all the money in Gonzales' $539,000 war chest.

For whatever reason, insurance companies continue to clean up before the high court. Insurers won 71 percent of the cases that they had before the Texas Supreme Court in the 1990s."

Everything seems to point to a man who is simply corrupt. Let us not mince words. He is corrupt and sociopathic. Let us further examine instances of his corruption and his sociopathy:

The rules of warfare seemed to change for the Bush administration after 9/11. This became quite evident when the FBI and National Security Council lost the battle of the treatment of al-Qaeda prisoners. Suddenly the traditional but effective methods of interrogation were not enough. More intense techniques such as “water-boarding” where water is dripped into wet cloth over a suspect’s face. This can feel like drowning. These methods were found to be acceptable, so long as they did not result in permanent or lethal injuries. According to Newsweek:

"The handling of al-Libi touched off a long-running battle over interrogation tactics inside the administration. It is a struggle that continued right up until the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in April—and it extended into the White House, with Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council pitted against lawyers for the White House counsel and the vice president. Indeed, one reason the prison abuse scandal won't go away—two months after gruesome photos were published worldwide—is that a long paper trail of memos and directives from inside the administration has emerged, often leaked by those who disagreed with rougher means of questioning.

Last week the White House dismissed news accounts of one such memo, an explosive August 2002 brief from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel disclosed by The Washington Post. The memo, drafted by former OLC lawyer John Yoo, has been widely criticized for seeming to flout conventions against torture. It defends most interrogation methods short of severe, intentionally inflicted pain and permanent damage. White House officials told reporters that such abstract legal reasoning was insignificant and did not reflect the president's orders. But NEWSWEEK has learned that Yoo's August 2002 memo was prompted by CIA questions about what to do with a top Qaeda captive, Abu Zubaydah, who had turned uncooperative. And it was drafted after White House meetings convened by George W. Bush's chief counsel, Alberto Gonzales, along with Defense Department general counsel William Haynes and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's counsel, who discussed specific interrogation techniques, says a source familiar with the discussions. Among the methods they found acceptable: "water-boarding," or dripping water into a wet cloth over a suspect's face, which can feel like drowning; and threatening to bring in more-brutal interrogators from other nations."

Any man or woman whose entire career shows a callous disregard for even the most basic rights of a human being, friend or foe, does not understand the most basic of tenets of justice which ironically can be found, (for those who wish to blur the lines between church and state) in these words:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”